I was 6 years old when I first tried to Hitchhike

(Memoir Excerpt #8)

I was six years old when I first tried to hitchhike out of my suburban neighborhood.

We lived on a quiet upper-middle class street in Toronto, Canada. Our house backed onto a golf club. I wasn’t allowed to play in the backyard because my mom claimed she had sometimes found golf balls back there, but I had never seen one.

I mostly played in the front yard, by myself. We had a large peach-colored rock boulder at the edge of our chunky green lawn. It was my favorite thing about our house. I would sit on it cross-legged in my short shorts and cowboy boots for hours and watch the cars go by. We didn’t have a lot of cars go by, but when we did I would make up stories in my head about where they were going. I didn’t go to gymnastics classes or piano lessons, like most of my friends.

Instead, I went for walks. Almost every day. Up and down the street. I was allowed to walk past my house nine houses, to where the street ended, and I could go eleven houses the other way. The houses were spread apart from each other so it was quite a distance for my little legs.

I had a few friends on the street. There was Eleanor, she was six years old too but she had a job. She delivered newspapers on Saturdays with her dad. Sometimes I would wake up super early and watch them from the window and sneak outside to help. The best part was when the carrier cart was half empty and one of us could squish ourselves into it. Our legs would dangling down skimming the ground as her dad propelled us along the sidewalk.

Then there was my best friend, Charlotte. Her mom had big red hair, long painted nails and she was always dressed in tight sexy clothes. She would invite me in, sit us at the kitchen table and make nutella sandwiches for us. I couldn’t believe she let us eat chocolate sandwiches. I never told my mother, I didn’t want to get in trouble.

I think I spent a lot of time sitting outside of the house because inside the house was full of secrets. Both of my parents had started seeing other people on the side. First my father, then once my mother got wind of it she began her own in revenge. My brother and I were caught in the middle, burdened with keeping up the facade.  There were so many lies to remember it made my head hurt.

It was one of those nights, when my father was out at an ‘event’ and my brother and I sat alone with my mother watching a movie that I first learned about hitchhiking.

I remember I was six years old, sitting on the thick gold carpet floor of our living room, like I did most nights. We were sitting in the dark, watching a movie I probably shouldn’t have been watching. My brother was sitting quietly beside my mother on the couch. I don’t remember what movie it was, or what it was even about, but I distinctly remember one scene. It was of a women, and she was out on the road with her arm stuck out, and a stranger driving by stopped his car to let her in. This fascinated me. Was this a magic signal? Her arm out, her fingers rolled up with just her thumb pointed outward. The idea that a stranger could just pick you up and take you somewhere different was exactly what I had been dreaming of.

Then next day I knocked on Charlotte’s door,

“Come out, I got something to show you” She pulled on her maryjanes and followed me out to the sidewalk.

“Stick out your arm like this” I demonstrated. “You’re fingers have to be rolled in”


“Just trust me.” I started strutting my stuff down the street with my arm stretched out. Charlotte meandered behind me. “This is boring”.

“We just have to wait for a car” I scanned the street for cars. One was coming, “Okay, come on!” I locked eyes with the driver. Charlotte was right behind me replicating my stance.

The car honked. I smiled and flexed by thumb a little harder. I watched him drive right by. I wondered why he didn’t stop to pick us up.

“I don’t like this. I’m going home.” Charlotte whined and ran back to her house.

I tried walking backwards, switching arms, and even jogging while I held my arm out. I spent all afternoon attempting to figure out what the trick was, what that magic move she did in the movie was, but no one ever stopped to pick me up…


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4 thoughts on “I was 6 years old when I first tried to Hitchhike

  1. Your pacing is really nice, and you have the ability to make us feel we are there with you. There’s a famous hitchhiking scene in “It Happened One Night” (Claudette Colbert,1934) but probably that wasn’t the one that sent you out to experiment in a Toronto suburb 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I don’t know that movie but I just looked it up, it looks hilarious! I’ll have to put it on my watch list. Thank you for your feedback, as well. I’m really trying to focus on pacing, so thanks for noticing!


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